After several hardware-related delays, SpaceX is slated to introduce smoke and fire to Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday when teams launch the 10th batch of Starlink internet satellites from pad 39A, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
A 230-foot Falcon 9, packed with 57 Starlink satellites and two spacecraft for BlackSky Global, is scheduled to launch at 11:59 a.m., the opening of a six-minute window. The rocket's first stage will target an automated landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship shortly after liftoff.
According to the Space Force, weather for the attempt stands at 70% "go" with the possible presence of cumulus clouds noted as the primary liftoff concern. The "go" percentage does not include upper-level wind impacts, though those are expected to remain low.
This mission, which will boost the Starlink internet constellation’s size to nearly 600, has been delayed several times due to technical reasons not released by SpaceX. It was slated to launch before the June 30 Falcon 9 flight with an Air Force Global Positioning System satellite, but the rocket was eventually lowered and moved back into the hangar at pad 39A for additional checkouts.
Starlink missions usually fly with exactly 60 internet-beaming spacecraft for the constellation, but this mission includes two “rideshare” satellites for Seattle-based BlackSky. The company aims to provide sharp imagery of locations in rapid succession as its spacecraft fly over the same area multiple times, essentially adding up to intelligence updates for its customers, which include the government’s secretive National Reconnaissance Office.
If schedules hold, Starlink's launch on Wednesday will pave the way for yet another Falcon 9 liftoff on July 12, this time on a mission known as Anasis 2 for the South Korean military. Then in late July, a Falcon 9 is expected to fly SAOCOM 1B for Argentina's space agency, which will mark the first time in more than 60 years that the Space Coast hosts a mission that flies south for a polar orbit insertion.
This month's last mission is a high-profile one: on July 30, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will boost NASA's Mars Perseverance rover towards the red planet from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41. The window to launch the sedan-sized rover opens around 8 a.m.
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: About 60 Starlink satellites
- Launch time: 11:59 a.m. EDT
- Launch pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Landing: Drone ship